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Posted: Thursday, 20 February 2014 1:03PM

Bills' Marrone gave Byrd high praise to management




INDIANAPOLIS (WGR 550)  -- It's a bit of a different week for Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone at the 2014 NFL Combine. During the 2013 event, Marrone wasn't even two months into his new position as a head coach and had to focus almost solely on finding a quarterback.

Instead, the head coach is more in tune with what's going on with the team's unrestricted free agents, who likely needs replacement along the roster and what positions to target come draft day.

The lingering topic for the Bills is what they will do with safety Jairus Byrd. Now operating in the two-week window the NFL gives to teams to apply the franchise tag to players, the Bills must act swiftly and succinctly to either sign him to a long-term deal or to franchise tag him and give themselves more options.

If it were up to Marrone, Byrd would be back without any hesitation.

"After the season was over, my evaluation, I told [Jairus] what I was gonna go to management with," the head coach said. "I told Jairus, I have nothing but great things to say. I have nothing but great things to recommend. And then now, that goes to Doug Whaley and then it goes to management and then they try to come up with something and try to see what's best for both parties. But, I love him. I really do. He did an outstanding job for us."

The relationship between Byrd and the Bills' front office -- not the players or coaching staff -- took a major blow after the safety was tagged in 2013 and not given a long-term deal. He took his time reporting to the Bills, waiting until the latest possible moment to sign his tender without allowing the team to use a roster exemption on him.

Another instance of placing the franchise tag on Byrd would likely facilitate further resentment, and could force a split between the sides if there isn't any hope of signing him to a long-term deal.

Without Byrd, the Bills would have Aaron Williams starting at one safety spot, and then an opportunity to fill in the blank with the other. Marrone was asked if he believes Da'Norris Searcy could start for the team if they needed him to, and the coach's response fell way short of a ringing endorsement.

"Da'Norris is out there, we also have Duke Williams, people on our roster," Marrone said in his initial response to the question. "I think it's like anything else. If a player exits the program or leaves the program whatever it may be, unrestricted free agency, I think the first thing you do is you look on your roster to see what you have. And then after that, you can look into the unrestricted free agents that are out there. And then after that, you look at the draft."

The Bills also have a decision to make on a quarterback on their roster that had his season ended before it even began. Kevin Kolb was placed on Injured Reserve after suffering a concussion in the preseason and now has one year remaining on his contract.

The team has yet to comment publicly on his health status, but said Thursday that they'll know something soon.

"What I was told, there's a medical process and he's still going through it," Marrone said. "And we're waiting for him to come back for another medical check."

Despite not knowing the exact date it would happen, the head coach clarified that Kolb's medical checkup would take place ahead of the start of the new league year on March 11. The significance of that rests in the roster bonus owed to Kolb, a $1 million sum owed to the quarterback if he's on the roster two days past the start of the new league year.

Logically speaking, a decision needs to be made on his immediate future before that event comes to fruition. The Bills know the clock is ticking on both Byrd and Kolb, and a choice needs to be made on both.

Here is the full audio from Marrone's time with the Buffalo media on Thursday:


Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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